L. Ron Hubbard
For 35 years I believed that L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, was no more than a writer of mediocre fiction who, lusting for power and money, became one of the world's most successful mountebanks. Russell Miller's admirable, meticulously documented biography, Bare-Faced Messiah: The True Story of L. Ron Hubbard ( Henry Holt, 1988), has persuaded me otherwise. Hubbard was a deeply disturbed man--a pathological liar who steadily deteriorated from a charming rogue into a paranoid egomaniac . unable to distinguish," as Miller puts it, "between fact and his own fantastic fiction."
Almost everything Ron ever said about himself was false. He was never a swashbuckling explorer or distinguished naval officer. Although he claimed to be a physicist, his knowledge of science was negligible. His father, a lieutenant-commander in the United States Navy, had hoped his son would pursue a similar career, but near-sightedness kept Ron out of Annapolis. His only education was in the engineering school of George Washington University, where he dropped out after two years of dismal grades.
During the ten years preceding the Second World War, Ron became one of the nation's most industrious contributors to western, mystery, and adventure pulp fiction. His four years in the wartime Navy are summed up in a fitness report saying he "lacked essential qualities of leadership . . . not considered qualified for command or promotion." The closest he came to combat was while in command of a submarine chaser. On its shakedown cruise Hubbard mistook a magnetic deposit for submarines, and his battle against the nonexistent enemy cost him his command. Assigned to a ship on its way to a war zone, he at once applied for and obtained transfer to a school at Princeton. "Far from being a hero," Miller concludes, Hubbard was a "malingering coward who had done his best to avoid seeing action."
Ron's record as husband, father and bigamist was even more deplorable.____________________